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J Sleep Res. 2012 Aug;21(4):390-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2011.00979.x. Epub 2011 Nov 19.

Sustained attention to response task (SART) shows impaired vigilance in a spectrum of disorders of excessive daytime sleepiness.

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1
Leiden University Medical Centre, Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurophysiology, Leiden, The Netherlands. m.k.m.van_schie@lumc.nl

Abstract

The sustained attention to response task comprises withholding key presses to one in nine of 225 target stimuli; it proved to be a sensitive measure of vigilance in a small group of narcoleptics. We studied sustained attention to response task results in 96 patients from a tertiary narcolepsy referral centre. Diagnoses according to ICSD-2 criteria were narcolepsy with (n=42) and without cataplexy (n=5), idiopathic hypersomnia without long sleep time (n=37), and obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome (n=12). The sustained attention to response task was administered prior to each of five multiple sleep latency test sessions. Analysis concerned error rates, mean reaction time, reaction time variability and post-error slowing, as well as the correlation of sustained attention to response task results with mean latency of the multiple sleep latency test and possible time of day influences. Median sustained attention to response task error scores ranged from 8.4 to 11.1, and mean reaction times from 332 to 366ms. Sustained attention to response task error score and mean reaction time did not differ significantly between patient groups. Sustained attention to response task error score did not correlate with multiple sleep latency test sleep latency. Reaction time was more variable as the error score was higher. Sustained attention to response task error score was highest for the first session. We conclude that a high sustained attention to response task error rate reflects vigilance impairment in excessive daytime sleepiness irrespective of its cause. The sustained attention to response task and the multiple sleep latency test reflect different aspects of sleep/wakefulness and are complementary.

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